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Culture Reviews
Melomane
By Sonya Rinkus
What kind of band starts on time? Perhaps conditioned by the abuse of Madonna, who was slated for 7:30 p.m. and went on at 9:30, the majority of concert-goers rolled in an hour late, paid a 500-ruble cover and ascended the kitschy stairs of Ikra to find the Melomane gig near over. Not me, though - 8 o'clock means 8 o'clock (or at least 8:30) and I was posted up at the bar with a whiskey cola to enjoy the Brooklyn pop-noir group's entire set.

Fronted by Paris-born Pierre de Gaillande, the sextet has been called "the most European band in America." But this is sort of a groundless accolade, as their sound draws primarily from Elliott Smith (American), Leonard Cohen (Canadian) and Nick Cave (Australian). The impetus for Melomane's visit to Moscow is that Soyuz Music recently released their third album, "Glaciers." Unsurprisingly, most of their set consisted of songs from this album, and Pierre made sure to mention several times that there was a stand by the door where you could purchase it. After voicing his longtime affinity with the great country of Russia, he dove into "Ballot is the Bullet," the obligatory anti-Bush ballad. Lyrics like "love is patient and kind but the powers that be are violent and blind" were painful ? I preferred the simpler "Kill Kill Kill," which consisted only of "Kill kill kill, no no no. Love love love, yes yes yes."

Had anyone in the audience heard them before? Unlikely, as Melomane's not too big outside the Brooklyn indie music scene. They don't even have a Wikipedia page! But even run-of-the-mill Williamsburg scenesters are a novelty in Moscow, and the crowd seemed to be enjoying itself, so much so that when the keyboardist, Quentin Jennings, repeatedly asked that someone fix the stage light blinding his eyes, no one could be bothered. So he finished the set with a pained face turned towards the wall.

More injury: bassist Daria Klotz was stool-ridden on account of a broken collarbone. Incidentally, Klotz does have a Wiki entry, in addition to Rude Girl bangs, sleeve tattoos and the perfect retro name. She used to play in queercore group God Is My Co-Pilot, but couldn't do any thrashing tonight. So it was a relatively mellow showing from Melomane. They tried to close the set with a more balladry but, egged on by a mouthy bald freak by the bar, agreed to stay for a few more songs, descending into a garage rock sound. At 9:30 p.m., Ikra fed into "Sol," the club's new Thursday series of drum 'n' bass parties.

Like most small bands that come to Moscow, Melomane was approachable and looking to throw down post-concert. When I told them I was from Rolling Stone and scribbled down DOES NOT PAY FOR DRINKS on my notepad, the alcohol started flowing freely. Many hours and many vodka shots later, I learned that the American Embassy subsidized their trip to Russia (Daria); Daria broke her collarbone falling over drunk (Quentin); if all the members of Melomane had to die and he could only spare one, it'd be Pierre (Brad, the trumpet player); and Ikra has a "No Bathing Suits Allowed" hot tub backstage (Pierre). Rather than stick around to find out firsthand, I disappeared in the confusion who exactly ordered the 300-ruble Red Bulls on the tab.

18.09.06
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